Variability in Culture-Negative Peritonitis Rates in Pediatric Peritoneal Dialysis Programs in the United States

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021 Feb 8;16(2):233-240. doi: 10.2215/CJN.09190620. Epub 2021 Jan 18.


Background and objectives: International guidelines suggest a target culture-negative peritonitis rate of <15% among patients receiving long-term peritoneal dialysis. Through a pediatric multicenter dialysis collaborative, we identified variable rates of culture-negative peritonitis among participating centers. We sought to evaluate whether specific practices are associated with the variability in culture-negative rates between low- and high-culture-negative rate centers.

Design, setting, participants, & measurements: Thirty-two pediatric dialysis centers within the Standardizing Care to Improve Outcomes in Pediatric End Stage Renal Disease (SCOPE) collaborative contributed prospective peritonitis data between October 1, 2011 and March 30, 2017. Clinical practice and patient characteristics were compared between centers with a ≤20% rate of culture-negative peritonitis (low-rate centers) and centers with a rate >20% (high-rate centers). In addition, centers completed a survey focused on center-specific peritoneal dialysis effluent culture techniques.

Results: During the 5.5 years of observation, 1113 patients had 1301 catheters placed, totaling 19,025 patient months. There were 620 episodes of peritonitis in 378 patients with 411 catheters; cultures were negative in 165 (27%) peritonitis episodes from 125 (33%) patients and 128 (31%) catheters. Low-rate centers more frequently placed catheters with a downward-facing exit site and two cuffs (P<0.001), whereas high-rate centers had more patients perform dialysis themselves without the assistance of an adult care provider (P<0.001). The survey demonstrated that peritoneal dialysis effluent culture techniques were highly variable across centers. No consistent practice or technique helped to differentiate low- and high-rate centers.

Conclusions: Culture-negative peritonitis is a frequent complication of maintenance peritoneal dialysis in children. Despite published recommendations for dialysis effluent collection and culture methods, great variability in culture techniques and procedures exists among individual dialysis programs and respective laboratory processes.

Keywords: pediatric nephrology; peritoneal dialysis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Bacteriological Techniques / standards
  • Catheterization / adverse effects
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Dialysis Solutions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Peritoneal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Peritoneal Dialysis / standards*
  • Peritonitis / microbiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Specimen Handling / standards*
  • United States


  • Dialysis Solutions